"The Boys King Arthur"
OF SIR GARETH OF ORKNEY
The Boys King Arthur
by Sidney Lanier
Illustrated By N.C Wyeth
The Boys King Arthur
OF SIR LAUNCELOT DU LAKE
ANON after that the noble and worthy King Arthur was come from Rome into England, all the
knights of the Round Table resorted unto the king, and made many jousts and tournaments, and
some there were that were good knights, which increased so in arms and worship that they
passed all their fellows in prowess and noble deeds, and that was well proved on many, but
especially it was proved on Sir Launcelot du Lake. For in all tournaments and jousts and
deeds of arms, both for life and death, he passed all knights, and at no time he was never
overcome, but it were by treason or enehantment. Wherefore Queen Guenever had him in great
favor above all other knights, and certainly he loved the queen again above all other ladies and
damsels all the days of his life, and for her he did many great deeds of arms, and saved her
from the fire through his noble chivalry. Thus Sir Launcelot rested him a long while with play
and game; and then he thought to prove himself in strange adventures. Then he bade his brother
Sir Lionel to make him ready, "for we two will seek adventures."
So they mounted upon their horses armed at all points, and rode into a deep forest; and after
they came into a great plain, and then the weather was hot about noon, and Sir Launcelot had
great list [desire] to sleep.
Then Sir Lionel espied a great apple tree that stood by an hedge, and said' "Brother, yonder
is a fair shadow, there may we rest us and our horses."
"It is well said, fair brother," said Sir Launcelot; "for of all this seven year I was not so
sleepy as I am now."
And so they there alighted and tied their horses under sundry trees, and so Sir Launcelot laid
him down under an apple tree, and his helm he laid under his head. And Sir Lionel waked while
he slept. So Sir Launcelot was asleep passing fast. And in the mean while there came three
knights riding, as fast fleeing as ever they might ride. And there followed them three but one
knight. And when Sir Lionel saw him, him thought he saw never so great a knight nor so well
faring a man, neither so well apparelled unto all rights. So within a while this strong knight
had overtaken one of these knights, and there he smote him to the cold earth that he lay still.
And then he rode unto the second knight, and smote him so that man and horse fell down. And
then straight to the third knight he rode, and he smote him behind his horse's tail a spear's
length. And then he alighted down, and reined his horse on the bridle, and bound all the three
knights fast with the reins of their own bridles. When Sir Lionel saw him do thus, he thought
to assay him, and made him ready, and stilly and privily he took his horse, and thought not for
to awake Sir Launcelot. And when he was mounted upon his horse he overtook this strong knight
and bade him turn' and the other smote Sir Lionel so hard that horse and man he bare to the
earth, and so he alighted down and bound him fast, and threw him overthwart his own horse, and
so he served them all four, and rode with them away to his own castle. And when he came there,
he made unarm them, and beat them with thorns all naked, and after put them in a deep prison
where there were many more knights that made great dolor.
When Sir Ector de Maris wist that Sir Launcelot was past out of the court to seek adventures he
was wroth with himself, and made him ready to seek Sir Launcelot, and as he had ridden long in a
great forest, he met with a man that was like a forester. "Fair fellow," said Sir Ector,
"knowest thou in this country any adventures that be here nigh hand?"
"Sir," said the forester, "this country know I well, and hereby within this mile is a strong
manor, and well diked, and by that manor, on the left hand, there is a fair ford for horses to
drink of, and over that ford there groweth g fair tree, and thereon hangeth many fair shields
that wielded sometime good knights' and at the hole of the tree hangeth a basin of copper and
laton [brass], and strike upon that basin with the butt of thy spear thrice, and soon after thou
shalt hear new tidings, and else hast thou the fairest grace that many a year had ever knight
that passed through this forest."
"Gramercy" [thanks], said Sir Ector, and departed and came to the tree, and saw many fair
shields, and among them he saw his brother's shield, Sir Lionel, and many more that he knew that
were his fellows of the Round Table, the which grieved his heart, and he promised to revenge his
brother. Then anon Sir Eetor beat on the basin as he were wood [crazy], and then he gave his
horse drink at the ford' and there came a knight behind him and bade him come out of the water
and make him ready; and Sir Eetor anon turned him shortly, and in feuter east(1) his spear, and
smote the other knight a great buffet that his horse turned twice about.
1 "In feuter east his spear," in rest
placed his spear.
"This was well done," said the strong knight, "and knightly thou hast stricken me'" and
therewith he rushed his horse on Sir Eetor and caught him under his right arm, and bare him
clean out of the saddle, and rode with him away into his own hall, and threw him down in the
midst of the floor. The name of this knight was Sir Turquine. Then he said unto Sir Ector, "For
thou hast done this day more unto me than any knight did these twelve years, now will I grant
thee thy life, so thou wilt be sworn to be my prisoner all thy life-days."
"Nay," said Sir Ector, "that will I never promise thee, but that I will do mine advantage."
"That me repenteth," said Sir Turquine.
And then he made to unarm him, and beat him with thorns all naked, and after put him down in a
deep dungeon, where he knew many of his fellows. But when Sir Ector saw Sir Lionel, then made
he great sorrow.
"Alas, brother," said Sir Ector, "where is my brother Sir Launcelot ?"
"Fair brother, I left him on sleep when that I from him went, under an apple tree, and what is
become of him I cannot tell you."
"Alas," said the knights, "but Sir Launcelot help us we may never be delivered, for we know
now no knight that is able to match our master Turquine."
Now leave we these knights prisoners, and speak we of Sir Launcelot du Lake that lieth under
the apple tree sleeping. Even about the noon there came by him four queens of great estate;
and, for the heat of the sun should not annoy them, there rode four knights about them and bare
a cloth of green silk on four squares, betwixt them and the sun, and the queens rode on four
Thus as they rode they heard by them a great horse grimly neigh, and then were they ware of a
sleeping knight that lay all armed under an apple tree; anon as these queens looked on his face
they knew that it was Sir Launcelot. Then they began for to strive for that knight; every one
said she would have him to her love.
"We shall not strive," said Morgan le Fay that was King Arthur's sister; "I shall put an
enchantment upon him that he shall not awake in six hours, and then I will lead him away unto my
castle, and when he is surely within my hold I shall take the enchantment from him, and then let
him choose which of us he will have for his love."
So this enchantment was east upon Sir Launcelot, and then they laid him upon his shield, and
bare him so on horseback betwixt two knights, and brought him unto the castle Chariot, and there
they laid him in a chamber cold, and at night they sent unto him a fair damsel with his supper
ready dight. By that the enchantment was past, and when she came she saluted him, and asked him
"I cannot say, fair damsel," said Sir Launcelot, "for I wot not how I came into this castle
but it be by an enchantment."
"Sir," said she, "ye must make good cheer, and if ye be such a knight as is said ye be, I
shall tell you more tomorn [to-morrow] by prime [the first hour] of the day."
"Gramercy, fair damsel," said Sir Launcelot, "of your good will I require you."
And so she departed. And there he lay all that night without comfort of anybody.
And on the morn early came these four queens, passingly well beseen, all they bidding him good
morn, and he them again.
"Sir knight," the four queens said, "thou must understand thou art our prisoner, and we here
know thee well, that thou art Sir Launcelot du Lake, King Ban's son. And truly we understand
your worthiness that thou art the noblest knight living; and therefore thee behoveth now to
choose one of us four. I am the Queen Morgan le Fay, Queen of the land of Gore, and here is the
Queen of Northgalis, and the Queen of Eastland, and the Queen of the Out Isles; now choose ye
one of us which thou wilt have to thy love, for thou mayst not choose or else in this prison to
"This is an hard case," said Sir Launcelot, "that either I must die or else choose one of you,
yet had I lievet to die in this prison with worship, than to have one of you to my love maugre
my head. And therefore ye be answered, for I will have none of you, for ye be false
"Well," said the queens, "is this your answer, that you will refuse us?"
"Yea, upon my life," said Sir Launcelot, "refused ye be of me."
So they departed, and left him there alone that made great sorrow.
Right so at noon came the damsel to him, and brought him his dinner, and asked him what cheer.
"Truly, fair damsel," said Sir Launcelot, "in all my life-days never so ill."
"Sir," said she, "that me repenteth; but and ye will be ruled by me, I shall help you out of
this distress, and ye shall have no shame nor rillany, so that ye hold me a promise."
"Fair damsel, that I will grant you, and sore I am afeared of these queen's witches, for they
have destroyed many a good knight."
"Sir," said she, "that is sooth; and for the renown and bounty they hear of you, they would
have your love, and, sir, they say that your name is Sir Launcelot du Lake, the flower of all
the knights that been living, and they been passing wroth with you that ye have refused them;
but, sir, and ye would promise me for to help my father on Tuesday next coming, that hath made a
tournament between him and the King of Northgalis; for the Tuesday last past my father lost the
field through three knights of King Arthur's court, and if ye will be there upon Tuesday next
coming ancl help my father, tomorrow or [ere] prime, by the grace of God, I shall deliver you
"Fair maiden," said Sir Launcelot, "tell me what is your father's name, and then shall I give
you an answer."
"Sir knight," said the damsel, "my father is King Bagdemagus, that was foully rebuked at the
"I know your father well," said Sir Launcelot, "for a noble king and a good knight, and by the
faith of my body, ye shall have my body ready to do your father and you service at that day."
"Sir," said the damsel, "gramercy, and to-morrow await that ye be ready betimes, and I shall
deliver you; and take you your armor and your horse, shield, and spear; and hereby within these
ten miles is an abbey of white monks, and there I pray you to abide, and thither shall I bring
my father unto you."
"All this shall be done," said Sir Launcelot, "as I am a true knight."
And so she departed, and came on the morrow early and found him ready. Then she brought him
out of twelve locks, and brought him unto his armor. And when he was all armed and arrayed, she
brought him unto his own horse, and lightly he saddled him, and took a great spear in his hand,
and so rode forth, and said, "Fair damsel, I shall not fail you, by the grace of God."
And so he rode into a great forest all that day, and in no wise could he find any highway, and
so the night fell on him, and then was he ware in a slade [glade] of a pavilion of red
sendall.(1) "By my faith," said Sir Launcelot, "in that pavilion will I lodge all this night." And
so there he alighted down, and tied his horse to the pavilion, and there he unarmed him, and
found there a rich bed and laid him therein, and anon he fell on sleep.
1 "Sendall," a kind of silk.
So thus within a while the night passed and the day appeared, and then Sir Launcelot armed him
and mounted upon his horse, and took his leave, and they showed him the way towards the abbey,
and thither they rode within the space of two hours.
As soon as Sir Launcelot came within the abbey yard, King Bagdemagus' daughter heard a great
horse go on the pavement. And then she arose and went unto a window, and there she saw that it
was Sir Launcelot, and anon she made men hastily to go to him, which took his horse and led him
into a stable, and himself was led into a fair chamber, and there he unarmed him, and the lady
sent to him a long gown, and anon she came herself. And then she made Sir Launcelot passing
good cheer, and she said he was the knight in the world that was most welcome to h'er. Then she
in all the haste sent for her father King Bagdemagus, that was within twelve miles of that
abbey, and before even he came with a fair fellowship of knights with him'. And when the king
was alighted from his horse, he went straight unto Sir Launcelot's chamber, and there found his
daughter, and then the king embraced Sir Launcelot in his arms, and either made other good
cheer. Anon Sir Launcelot made his complaint unto the king how he was betrayed, and how his
brother Sir Lionel was departed from him he wist not whither, and how his daughter had delivered
him out of prison, "where- fore I shall while I live do her service and all her friends and
"Then am I sure of your help," said the king, "now on Tuesday next coming!"
"Ye, sir," said Sir Launcelot, "I shall not fail you, for so have I promised unto my lady, your
daughter. As I hear say that the tournament shall be within this three mile of this abbey, ye
shall send unto me three knights of yours such as ye trust, and look that the three knights have
all white shields, and I also, and no painture on the shields, and we four will come out of a
little wood in the midst of both parties, and we shall fall in the front of our enemies and
grieve them that we may; and thus shall I not be known what knight I am." So they took their
rest that night, and this was on the Sunday. And so the king departed, and sent unto Sir
Launcelot three knights, with the four white shields.
And on the Tuesday they lodged them in a little leaved wood beside where the tournament should
be. And there were scaffolds that lords and ladies might behold, and to give the prize. Then
came into the field the King of Northgalis with eightscore helms. And then the three knights
of Arthur stood by themselves. Then came into the field King Bagdemagus with fourscore of
helms. And then they feutercel [placed in rest] their spears, and came together with a great
dash, and there were slain of knights, at the first encounter, twelve of King Bagdemagus' party,
and six of the King of Northgalis' party, and King Bagdemagus' party was far set aback.
With that came Sir Launcelot du Lake, and he thrust in with his spear in the thickest of the
press, and there he smote down with one spear five knights, and of four of them he brake their
backs. And in that throng he smote down the King of Northgalis, and brake his thigh in that
fall. All this doing of Sir Launcelot saw the three knights of Arthur.
"Yonder is a shrewd guest," said Sir Mador de la Porte, "therefore have here once at him."
So they encountered, and Sir Launcelot bare him down horse and man, so that his shoulder went
out of joint.
"Now befalleth it to me to joust," said Mordred, "for Sir Mador hath a sore fall."
Sir Launcelot was ware of him, and gat a great spear in his hand, and met him, and Sir Mordred
brake a spear upon him, and Sir Launcelot gave him such a buffet that the bow of his saddle
brake, and so he flew over his horse's tail, that his helm went into the earth a foot and more,
that nigh his neck was broken, and there he lay long in a swoon. Then came in Sir Gahalatine
with a spear, and Launcelot against him, with all their strength that they might drive, that
both their spears to-brast [burst to pieces] even to their hands, and then they flung out with
their swords, and gave many a grim stroke. Then was Sir Launcelot wroth out of measure, and
then he smote Sir Gahalatine on the helm, that his nose burst out on blood, and ears and mouth
both, and therewith his head hung low. And therewith his horse ran away with him, and he fell
down to the earth.
Anon therewithal Sir Launcelot gat a great spear in his hand, and, or [ere] ever that great
spear brake, he bare down to the earth sixteen knights, some horse and man, and some the man and
not the horse, and there was none but that he hit surely. He bare none arms [no device to be
known by] that day. And then he gat another great spear, and smote down twelve knights, and the
most part of them never throve after. And then the knights of the King of Northgalis would
joust no more, and there the prize was given unto King Bagdemagus. So either party departed
unto his own plaee, and Sir Launcelot rode forth with King Bagdemagus unto his castle, and there
he had passing good cheer both with the king and with his daughter, and they proffered him great
gifts. And on the morn he took his leave, and told King Bagdemagus that he would go and seek
his brother Sir Lionel, that went from him when that. he slept. So he took his horse, and
betaught [commended] them all to God. And there he said unto the king's daughter, "If ye have
need any time of my service, I pray you let me have knowledge, and I shall not fail you, as I
am a true knight."
And so Sir Launcelot departed, and by adventure he eame into the same forest where he was
taken sleeping. And in the midst of an highway he met a damsel riding on a white palfrey, and
there either saluted other.
"Fair damsel," said Sir Launcelot, "know Ye in this country any adventures?"
"Sir knight," said that damsel, "here are adventures near hand, and [if] thou durst prove
"Why should ! not prove adventures.l" said Sir Launce- lot; "for that cause came I hither."
"Well," said she, "thou seemest well to be a good knight, and if thou dare meet with a good
knight, I shall bring thee where is the best knight and the mightiest that ever thou foundest,
so thou wilt tell me what is thy name, and what knight thou art."
"Damsel, as for to tell thee my name, I take no great force' truly, my name is Sir Launcelot
"Sir, thou beseemest well, here be adventures by that fall for thee, for hereby dwelleth a
knight that will not be overmatched for no man' that I know, unless ye overmateh him, and his
name is Sir Turquine. And, as I understand, he hath in his prison of _Arthur's court good
knights three- score and four that he hath won with his own hands. But when ye have done that
day's work ye shall promise me as ye are a true knight for to go with me, and to help me and
other damsels that are distressed daily with a false knight."
"All your intent, damsel, and desire I will fulfil, so ye will bring me unto this knight."
"Now, fair knight, come on your way."
And so she brought him unto the ford, and unto the tree where hung the basin. So Sir
Launcelot let his horse drink, and then he beat on the basin with the butt of his spear so hard
with all his might till the bottom fell out, and long he did so, but he saw nothing. Then he
rode along the gates of that manor nigh half an hour. And then was he ware of a great knight
that drove an horse afore him, and overthwart the horse there lay an armed knight bound. And
ever as they came near and near, Sir Launcelot thought he should know him; then Sir Launcelot
was ware that it was Sir Gaheris, Gawaine's brother, a knight of the Table Round.
"Now, fair damsel," said Sir Launcelot, "I see yonder cometh a knight fast bound that is a
fellow of mine, and brother he is unto Sir Gawaine. And at the first beginning I promise you,
by the leave of God, to rescue that knight; and unless his master sit better in the saddle I
shall deliver all the prisoners that he hath out of danger, for I am sure that he hath two
brethren of mine prisoners with him."
By that time that either had seen other they gripped their spears unto them.
"Now, fair knight," said Sir Launcelot, "put that wounded knight off the horse, and let him
rest awhile, and let us two prove our strengths. For as it is informed me, thou doest and hast
done great despite and shame unto knights of the Round Table, and therefore now defend thee."
"And [if] thou be of the Table Round," said Turquine, "I defy thee and all thy fellowship."
"That is overmuch said," said Sir Launcelot.
And then they put their spears in the rests, and came together with their horses as fast as
they might run, and either smote other in the midst of their shields, that both their horses'
backs brast under them, and the knights were both astonied, and as soon as they might avoid
their horses they took their shields afore them, and drew out their swords, and came together
eagerly, and either gave other many strong strokes, for there might neither shields nor harness
hold their strokes. And so within a while they had both grimly wounds, and bled passing
grievously. Thus they fared two hours or more, trasing and rasing [feinting and thrusting]
either other where they might hit any bare place. Then at the last they were breathless both,
and stood leaning on their swords.
"I am Sir Launcelot du Lake, King Ban's son of Benwick, and knight of the Round Table
"Now, fellow," said Sir Turquine, "hold thy hand awhile, and tell me what I shall ask thee."
Then Turquine said, "Thou art the biggest man that ever I met withal, and the best breathed,
and like one knight that I hate above all other knights; so be it that thou be not he I will
lightly accord with thee, and for thy love I will deliver all the prisoners that I have, that is
threescore and four, so thou wilt tell me thy name. And thou and I will be fellows together,
and never to fail the while that I live."
"It is well said," said Sir Launcelot, "but since it is so that I may have thy friendship,
what knight is he that thou so hatest above all other .l"
"Truly," said Sir Turquine, "his name is Launcelot du Lake, for he slew my brother Sir Carados
at the Dolorous Tower, which was one of the best knights then living, and therefore him I except
of all knights, for and I/f] I may once meet with him, that one of us shall make an end of
another, and do that I make a vow. And for Sir Launcelot's sake I have slain an hundred good
knights, and as many I have utterly maimed, that never after they might help them- selves, and
many have died in my prison, and yet I have threescore and four, and all shall be delivered, so
that thou wilt tell me thy name, and so it be that thou be not Sir Launcelot."
"Now see I well," said Sir Launcelot, "that such a man I might be I might have peace, and such
a man I might be there should be between us two mortal war; and now, sir knight, at thy request,
I will that thou wit and know that I am Sir Launcelot du Lake, King Ban's son of Benwick, and
knight of the Round Table. And now I defy thee do thy best."
"Ah!" said Sir Turquine, "Launcelot, thou art unto me most welcome, as ever was any knight,
for we shall never depart till the one of us be dead."
And then hurtled they together as two wild bulls, rash- ing and lashing with their shields and
swords, that some- time they fell both on their noses. Thus they fought still two hours and
more, and never would rest, and Sir Turquine gave Sir Launcelot many wounds that all the ground
there as they fought was all besprinkled with blood.
Then at last Sir Turquine waxed very faint, and gave somewhat back, and bare his shield full
low for weariness. That soon espied Sir Launcelot, and then leaped upon him fiercely as a lion,
and got him by the banner of his helmet, and so he plucked him down on his knees, and anon he
rased [tore off] his helm, and then he smote his neck asunder.
So on the third day he rode over a long bridge, and there started upon him suddenly a passing
foul churl, and he smote his horse on the nose that he turned about, and asked him why he rode
over that bridge without his license.
"Why should I not ride this way?" said Sir Launcelot. "I may not ride beside."
"Thou shalt not choose," said the churl, and lashed at him with a great club shod with iron.
Then Sir Launcelot drew a sword, and put the stroke aback, and clave his head unto the breast.
At the end of the bridge was a fair village, and all the people men and women cried on Sir
Launcelot, and said, "A worse deed didst thou never for thyself, for thou hast slain the chief
porter of our castle."
Sir Launcelot let them say what they would, and straight he went into the castle; and when he
came into the castle he alighted, and tied his horse to a ring on the wall; and there he saw a
fair green court, and thither he dressed him- self, for there him thought was a fair place to
fight in. So he looked about, and saw much people in doors and windows, that said, "Fair
knight, thou art unhappy."
Anon withal came there upon him two great giants, well armed all save the heads, with two
horrible clubs in their hands. Sir Launcelot put his shield afore him, and put the stroke away
of the one giant, and with his sword he clave his head asunder. When his fellow saw that, he
ran away as he were wood [crazy], for fear of the horrible strokes, and Sir Launcelot after him
with all his might, and smote him on the shoulder, and clave him to the middle. Then Sir
Launcelot went into the hall, and there came afore him threescore ladies and damsels, and all
kneeled unto him, and thanked God and him of their deliverance.
"For, sir," said they, "the most part of us have. been here this seven year their prisoners,
and we have worked all manner of silk works for our meat, and we are all great gentle- women
born, and blessed be the time, knight, that ever thou weft born; for thou hast done the most
worship that ever did knight in the world, that will we bear record, and we all pray you to tell
us your name, that we may tell our friends who delivered us out of prison."
"Fair damsels," he said, "my name is Sir Launcelot du Lake."
"Ah, sir," said they all, "well mayest thou be he, for else save yourself, as we deemed, there
might never knight have the better of these two giants, for many fair knights have assayed it,
and here have ended, and many times have we wished after you, and these two giants dread never
knight but you."
"Now may ye say," said Sir Launcelot, "unto your friends, how and who hath delivered you, and
greet them all from me, and if that I come in any of your marches [boundaries] show me such
cheer as ye have cause; and what treasure that there is in this castle I give it you for a
reward for your grievance: and the lord that is the owner of this castle I would that he
received it as is right."
"Fair sir," said they, "the name of this castle is Tinta- gil and a duke owned it some time
that had wedded fair Igraine, and after wedded her Utherpendragon."
"Well," said Sir Launcelot, "I understand to whom this castle belongeth."
And so he departed from them and betaught [commended] them unto God. And then he mounted upon
his horse, and rode into many strange and wild countries and through many waters and valleys,
and evil was he lodged. And at the last by fortune him happened against a night to come to a
fair curtilage [enclosure], and therein he found an old gentlewoman that lodged him with a good
will, and there he had good cheer for him and his horse. And when time was, his host brought
him into a fair garret over the gate to his bed. There Sir Launcelot unarmed him, and set his
harness by him, and went to bed, and anon he fell on sleep. So soon after there came one on
horseback, and knocked at the gate in great haste. And when Sir Launcelot heard this he arose
up, and looked out at the window, and saw by the moonlight three knights came riding
after one man, and all three lashed on him at once with swords, and that one knight turned on
them knightly again and defended him.
"Truly," said Sir Launcelot, "yonder one knight shall I help, for it were shame for me to see
three knights on one, and if he be slain I am partner of his death."
And therewith he took his harness and went out at a window by a sheet down to the four
knights, and then Sir Launcelot said on high [in a loud voice], "Turn you knights unto me, and
leave your fighting with that knight."
And then they all three left Sir Kay, and turned unto Sir Launcelot, and there began great
battle, for they alighted all three, and struck many great strokes at Sir Launcelot, and
assailed him on every side. Then Sir Kay dressed him for to have holpen Sir Launcelot.
"Nay, sir," said he, "I will none of your help, therefore as ye will have my help let me alone
Sir Kay for the pleasure of the knight suffered him to do his will, and so stood aside. And
then anon within six strokes Sir Launcelot had stricken them to the earth.
And then they all three cried, "Sir knight, we yield us unto you as man of might matchless."
"As to that," said Sir Launcelot, "I will not take your yielding unto me, but so that ye yield
you unto Sir Kay the seneschal; on that covenant I will save your lives and else not."
"Fair knight," said they, "that were we loath to do; for as for Sir Kay we chased him hither,
and had overcome him had not ye been; therefore to yield us unto him it were no reason."
"Well, as to that," said Sir Launcelot, "advise you well, for ye may choose whether ye will
die or live, for and [if] ye be yielden it shall be unto Sir Kay."
"Fair knight," then they said, "in saving our lives we will do as thou commandest us."
"Then shall ye," said Sir Launcelot, "on Whitsunday next coming go unto the court of King
Arthur, and there shall ye yield you unto Queen Guenever, and put you all three in her grace and
mercy, and say that Sir Kay sent you thither to be her prisoners."
"Sir," they said, "it shall be done by the faith of our bodies, and we be living."
And there they swore, every knight upon his sword. And so Sir Launcelot suffered them so to
depart. And then Sir Launcelot knocked at the gate with the pommel of his sword, and with that
came his host, and in they entered, Sir Kay and he.
"Sir," said his host, "I wend ye had been in your bed."
"So I was," said Sir Launcelot, "but I arose and leaped out at my window for to help an old
fellow of mine."
And so when they came nigh the light Sir Kay knew well that it was Sir Launcelot, and
therewith he kneeled down and thanked him of all his kindness that he hath holpen him twice from
"Sir," he said, "I have done nothing but that I ought to do, and ye are welcome, and here
shall ye repose you and take your rest."
So when Sir Kay was unarmed he asked after meat, so there was meat fetched him, and he ate
strongly. And when he had supped they went to their beds, and were lodged together in one bed.
On the morn Sir Launcelot arose early, and left Sir Kay sleeping' and Sir Launcelot took Sir
Kay's armor and his shield and armed him' and so he went to the stable and took his horse, and
took his leave of his host, and so he departed. Then soon after arose Sir Kay and missed Sir
Launcelot' and then he espied that he had his armor and his horse.
"Now, by my faith, I know well that he will grieve some of King Arthur's court' for on him
knights will be bold, and deem that it is I, and that will beguile them; and because of his
armor and shield, I am sure that I shall ride in peace." And then soon after departed Sir Kay,
and thanked his host.
Now let us speak of Sir Launcelot, that rode a great while in a deep forest, where he saw a
black brachet [small hound], seeking in manner as it had been in the fealty [track] of an hurt
deer, and therewith he rode after the braeher; and he saw lie on the ground a large fealty of
blood, and then Sir Launcelot rode after, and ever the braeher looked behind her. And so she
went through a great marish [marsh], and ever Sir Launcelot followed; and then was he ware of an
old manor, and thither ran the braeher, and so over the bridge. So Sir Launcelot rode over the
bridge, that was old and feeble. And when he came into the midst of a great hall, there saw he
lie a dead knight, that was a seemly man, and that brachet licked his wounds. And therewith
came out a lady weeping and wringing her hands, and she said, "0 knight, too much sorrow hast
thou brought me."
"Why say ye so?" said Sir Launcelot, "I did never this knight no harm, for hither by track of
blood this braeher brought me; and therefore, fair lady, be not displeased with me, for I am
full sore aggrieved of your grievance."
"Truly, sir," she said, "I trow it be not ye that have slain my husband, for he that did that
deed is sore wounded, and he is never likely to recover, that shall I ensure him."
"What was your husband's name?" said Sir Launcelot.
"Sir," said she, "his name was ealled Sir Gilbert, one of the best knights of the world, and
he that hath slain him I know not his name."
"Now God send you better comfort," said Sir Launcelot. And so he departed and went into the
forest again, and there he met with a damsel, the which knew him well, and she said aloud, "Well
be ye found, my lord; and now I re- quire thee on thy knighthood help my brother that is sore
wounded, and never stinteth bleeding, for this day fought he with Sir Gilbert and slew him in
plain battle, and there was my brother sore wounded, and there is a lady a sorceress that
dwelleth in a castle here beside, and this day she told me my brother's wounds should never be
whole till I could find a knight that would go into the Chapel Perilous, and there he should
find a. sword and a bloody cloth that the wounded knight was lapped in, and a piece of that
cloth and sword should heal my brother's wounds, so that his wounds were searched [touched] with
the sword and the cloth."
"This is a marvellous thing," said Sir Launcelot, "but what is your brother's name?"
"Sir," said she, "his name is Sir Meliot de Logres."
"That me repenteth," said Sir Launcelot, "for he is a fellow of the Table Round, and to his
help I will do my power."
"Then, sir," said she, "follow even this highway, and it will bring you unto the Chapel
Perilous, and here I shall abide till God send you here again, and but you speed I know no
knight living that may achieve that adventure."
Right so Sir Launcelot departed, and when he came unto the Chapel Perilous he alighted down,
and tied his horse to a little gate. And as soon as he was within the church- yard he saw on
the front of the chapel many fair rich shields turned up so down [upside down], and many of the
shields Sir Launcelot had seen knights bear beforehand. With that he saw by him stand there
thirty great knights, more by a yard than any man that ever he had seen, and all those grinned
and gnashed at Sir Launcelot. And when he saw their countenance he dread him sore, and so put
his shield afore him, and took his sword in his hand ready unto battle; and they were all armed
in blaek harness, ready with their shields and their swords drawn. And when Sir Launcelot would
have gone throughout them, they scattered on every side of him, and gave him the way, and
therewith he waxed all bold and entered into the chapel, and then he saw no light but a dim lamp
burning, and then was he ware of a corpse covered with a cloth of silk. Then Sir Launcelot
stooped down and cut a piece away of that cloth, and then it fared under him as the earth had
quaked a little; therewithal he feared. And then he saw a fair sword lie by the dead knight,
and that he gat in his hand and hied him out of the chapel. Anon as ever he was in the
chapel-yard all the knights spake to him with a grimly voice, and said, "Knight, Sir Launcelot,
lay that sword from thee, or else thou shalt die."
"Whether I live or die," said Sir Launcelot, "will no great word get it again, therefore fight
for it and ye list."
Then right so he passed throughout them, and beyond the chapel-yard there met him a fair
damsel, and said, "Sir Launcelot, leave that sword behind thee, or thou wilt die for it."
"I leave it not," said Sir Launcelot, "for no entreaties."
"No," said she, "and thou didst leave that sword, Queen Guenever should ye never see."
"Then were I a fool and I would leave this sword," said Launcelot.
"Now, gentle knight," said the damsel, "I require thee to kiss me but once."
"Nay," said Sir Launcelot, "that God me forbid."
"Well, sir," said she, "and thou hadst kissed me thy life days had been done, but now alas,"
she said, "I have lost all my labor, for I ordained this chapel for thy sake. And, Sir
Launcelot, now I tell thee, I have loved thee this seven year. But since I may not have [thee]
alive, I had kept no more joy in this world but to have [thee] dead. Then would I have balmed
[thee] and preserved [thee], and so have kept [thee] my life days, and daily I should have
"Ye say well, said Sir Launcelot, God preserve me from your subtle crafts."
And therewithal he took his horse and so departed from her. And when Sir Launcelot was
departed she took such sorrow that she died within a fourteen night [fortnight], and her name
was Hellawes the sorceress, lady of the castle Nigramous. Anon Sir Launcelot met with the
damsel, Sir Meliot's sister. And when she saw him she clapped her hands and wept for joy, and
then they rode unto a castle thereby, where Sir Meliot lay. And anon as Sir Launcelot saw him
he knew him, but he was pale as the earth for bleeding. When Sir Meliot saw Sir Launcelot, he
kneeled upon his knees and cried on high' "0 lord Sir Launcelot help me!" Anon Sir Launcelot
leaped unto him, and touehed his wounds with Sir Gilbert's sword, and then he wiped his wounds
with a part of the bloody cloth that Sir Gilbert was wrapped in, and anon a wholer man in his
life was he never. And then there was great joy between them, and they made Sir Launcelot all
the cheer that they might, and so on the morn Sir Launcelot took his leave, and bade Sir Melior
hie him to the court of my lord Arthur, "for it draweth nigh to the feast of Pentecost, and
there, by the grace of God, ye shall find me." And therewith they departed.
Sir Launcelot came home two days afore the feast of Pentecost. And King Arthur and all the
court were full glad of his coming. And when Sir Gawaine, Sir Ewaine, Sir Sagramour, and Sir
Ector de Maris saw Sir Launcelot in Sir Kay's armor, then they wist well it was he that smote
them down all with one spear. Then there was laughing and smiling among them. And ever now and
then came all the knights home that Sir Turquine had taken prisoners, and they all honored and
worshipped Sir Launcelot. When Sir Gaheris heard them speak, he said. "I saw all the battle,
from the beginning to the ending."
And there he told King Arthur all how it was, and how Sir Turquine was the strongest knight
that ever he saw except Sir Launc elot; there were many knights bare him record, nigh
threescore. Then Sir Kay told the king how Sir Launcelot had rescued him when he was in danger
to have been slain, and how "he made the knights to yield them to me, and not to him." And
there they were, all three, and bare record. "And," said Sir Kay, "because Sir Launcelot took
my harness, and left me his, I rode in good peace, and no man would have to do with me." Then
anon therewithal came the three knights that fought with Sir Launcelot at the long bridge, and
there they yielded them unto Sir Kay, and Sir Kay forsook them, and said he fought never with
them; "but I shall ease your hearts," said Sir Kay, "yonder is Sir Launcelot that overcame you."
When they understood that, they were glad. And then Sir Melior de Logres came home, and told
King Arthur how Sir Launcelot had saved him from the death. And all his deeds were known, how
four queens, sorceresses, had him in prison, and how he was delivered by King Bagdemagus'
daughter. Also there were told all the great deeds of arms that Sir Launcelot did betwixt the
two kings, that is to say, the King of Northgalis and King Bagdemagus. All the truth Sir
Gahalatine did tell, and Sir Mador de la Porte, and Sir Mordred, for they were at that same
tournament. Then came in the lady that knew Sir Launcelot when that he wounded Sir Belleus at
the pavilion. And there at the request of Sir Launcelot, Sir Belleus was made knight of the
And so at that time Sir Launcelot had the greatest name of any knight of the world, and most
he was honored of high and low.
[On a day, that might be a matter of two years before the feast of Pentecost whereof it will
be told in the Book of Sir Tristram, it happened that Queen Guenever was angered with Sir
Launcelot, yet truly for no fault of his, but only because a certain enchantress had wrought
that Sir Launcelot seemed to have shamed his knighthood.
Then the queen was nigh out of her wit, and then she writhed and weltered as a mad woman; and
at the last the queen met with Sir Launcelot, and thus she said,] "False traitor knight that
thou art, look thou never abide in my court, and not so hardy, thou false traitor knight that
thou art, that ever thou come in my sight."
"Alas!" said Sir Launcelot' and therewith he took such an heartly sorrow at her words that he
fell down to the floor in a swoon. And therewithal Queen Guenever departed. And when Sir
Launcelot awoke of his swoon he leaped out at a bay window into a garden, and there with thorns
he was all to-scratched in his visage and his body, and so he ran forth he wist not whither, and
was wild wood [insane] as ever was man.
"Wit ye well," said dame Elaine to Sir Bors, "I would lose my life for him rather than he
should be hurt; but alas, I cast me never for to see him; and the chief causer of this is dame
1 This is not Elaine, the maid of Astolat-- whom
we shall meet hereafter--but another Elaine.
"Madam," said dame Brisen, the whieh had made the enchantment before betwixt Sir Launcelot and
her, "I pray you heartily let Sir Bors depart and hie him with all his might, as fast as he may,
to seek Sir Launcelot. For I warn you he is elean out of his mind, and yet he shall be well
holpen, and but by miracle."
Then wept dame Elaine, and so did Sir Bors de Ganis, and so they departed; and Sir Bors rode
straight unto Queen Guenever, and when she saw Sir Bors she wept as she were wood.
"Fie on your weeping," said Sir Bors, "for ye weep never but when there is no boot. Alas!"
said Sir Bors, "that ever Sir Launcelot's kin saw you. For now have ye lost the best knight of
our blood, and he that was all our leader and our succor. And I dare say and make it good, that
all kings, Christian nor heathen, may not find such a knight, for to speak of his nobleness and
courtesy with his beauty and his gentleness. Alas," said Sir Bors, "what shall we do that be of
"Alas !" said Sir Ector de Maris.
"Alas !" said Sir Lionel.
And when the queen heard them say so, she fell to the ground in a deadly sound [swoon]; and
then Sir Bors took her, and [roused] her, and when she was come to herself again she kneeled
afore the three knights, and held up both her hands, and besought them to seek him, and not to
spare for no goods but that he be found, "for I wot well he is out of his mind." And Sir Bors,
Sir Ector, Sir Lionel, departed from the queen, for they might not abide no longer for sorrow'
and then the queen sent them treasure enough for their expenses, and so they took their horses
and their armor, and departed. And then they rode from country to country, in forests and in
wildernesses and in wastes, and ever they laid watch as well both at forests and at all manner
of men as they rode, to hearken and to inquire after him, as he that was a naked man in his
shirt, with a sword in his hand.
And thus they rode well nigh a quarter of a year, endlong and overthwart, in many places,
forests and wildernesses, and oftentimes were evil lodged for his sake, and yet for all their
labor and seeking could they never hear word of him. And wit ye well these three knights were
1 "Endlong and overthwart, "lengthways
and crossways of the land.
Then Sir Gawaine, Sir Uwaine, Sir Sagramour le Desirous, Sir Agloval, and Sir Percival de
Galis, took upon them by the great desire of King Arthur, and in especial by the queen, to seek
throughout all England, Wales, and Scotland, to find Sir Launcelot. And with them rode eighteen
knights more to bear them fellowship. And wit ye well they lacked no manner of spending' and so
were they three and twenty knights.
And thus as these noble knights rode together, they by one assent departed, and then they rode
by two, by three, and by four, and by five; and ever they assigned where they should meet.
And now leave we a little of Sir Ector and Sir Percival, and speak we of Sir Launcelot, that
suffered and endured many sharp showers, which ever ran wild wood, from place to place, and
lived by fruit and such as he might get, and drank water, two years; and other clothing had he
but little, save his shirt and his breeches. And thus, as Sir Launcelot wandered here and
there, he came into a fair meadow where he found a pavilion, and there upon a tree hung a. white
shield and two swords hung thereby, and two spears there leaned against a tree; and when Sir
Launcelot saw the swords, anon he leaped to the one sword, and took it in his hand, and drew it
out, and then he lashed at the shield that all the meadow rang of the dints that he gave with
such a noise as ten knights had fought together. Then there came forth a dwarf, and leaped unto
Sir Launcelot, and would have had the sword out of his hand; and then Sir Launcelot took him by
both the shoulders and threw him to the ground upon his neck, that he had almost broken his
neck; and therewithal the dwarf cried for help. Then came forth a likely knight, and well
apparelled in scarlet, furred with miniver. And anon as he saw Sir Launcelot, he deemed that he
should be out of his wit' and then he said with fair speech, "Good man, lay down that sword,
for, as me seemeth, thou hast more need of sleep, and of warm clothes, than to wield that
And lived by fruit and such as he might get
"As for that," said Sir Launcelot, "come not too nigh; for, and thou do, wit thou well I will
And when the knight of the pavilion saw that, he started backward within the pavilion. And
then the dwarf armed him lightly' and so the knight thought by force and might to take the sword
from Sir Launcelot, and so he came stepping out, and when Sir Launcelot saw him come so all
armed with his sword in his hand, then Sir Launcelot flew to him with such a might and hit him
upon the helm such a buffet that the stroke troubled his brains, and therewith the sword brake
in three. And the knight fell to the earth as he had been dead, the blood bursting out of his
mouth, nose, and ears. And then Sir Launcelot ran into the pavilion, and rushed even into the
Then the knight awaked out of his swoon, and looked up weakly with his eyes, and then he asked
where was that mad man that had given him such a buffet? "for such a buffet had I never of man's
"Sir," said the dwarf, "it is not worship to hurt him, for he is a man out of his wit, and
doubt ye not he hath been a man of great worship, and for some heartly sorrow that he hath taken
he is fallen mad; and me seemeth he resembleth much unto Sir Launcelot; for him I saw at the
great tournament beside Lonazep."
"Jesu defend," said that knight, "that ever that noble knight Sir Launcelot should be in such
a plight. But whatsoever he be, harm will I none do him."
And this knight's name was Sir Bliant. Then he said unto the dwarf, "Go thou in all haste on
horseback unto my brother Sir Seliaunt, that is at the Castle Blanche, and tell him of mine
adventure, and bid him bring with him an horse-litter and then will we bear this knight unto my
So the dwarf rode fast, and came again, and brought Sir Seliaunt with him, and six men with
an horse-litter; and so they took up the feather-bed with Sir Launcelot, and so carried all with
them to the Castle Blanche, and he never wakened until he was within the castle; and then they
bound his hands and his feet, and gave him good meats and good drinks, and brought him again to
his strength and his fairness; but in his wit they could not bring him again, nor to know
himself. Thus Sir Launcelot was there more than a year and a half.
Then upon a day this lord of that castle, Sir Bliant, took his arms on horseback with a spear
to seek adventures, and as he rode in a forest there met him two knights adventurous; the one
was Sir Breuse sans Pitie, and his brother Sir Bertlot. And these two ran both at once upon Sir
Bliant, and brake both their spears upon his body, and then they drew out their swords and made
a great battle and fought long together; but at the last Sir Bliant was sore wounded, and felt
himself faint, and then he fled on horseback towards his castle. And as they came hurling under
the castle, where Sir Launcelot lay in a window and saw two knights laid upon Sir Bliant with
their swords, and when Sir Launcelot saw that, yet as wood [crazy] as he was, he was sorry for
his lord Sir Bliant; and then Sir Launcelot brake his chains from his legs.
And so Sir Launcelot ran out at a postern, and there he met with the two knights that chased
Sir Bliant, and there he pulled down Bertlot with his bare hands from his horse, and therewithal
he writhed his sword out of his hands, and so he leaped unto Sir Breuse, and gave him such a
buffet upon the head that he tumbled backward over his horse's crupper. And when Sir Bertlot
saw his brother have such a fall, he gat a spear in his hand, and would have run Sir Launcelot
through. That saw Sir Bliant, and struck off the hand of Sir Bertlot; and then Sir Breuse and
Sir Bertlot gat their horses and fled away. When Sir Seliaunt came, and saw what Sir Launcelot
had done for his brother, then he thanked God, and so did his brother, that ever they did him
any good. But when Sir Bliant saw that Sir Launcelot was hurt with the breaking of his chains,
then he was sorry that he had bound him. "Bind him no more," said Sir Seliaunt, "for he is
happy and gracious." Then they made great joy of Sir Launcelot, and they bound him no more; and
so he abode there half a year and more. And in a morning early Sir Launcelot was ware where
came a great boar, with many hounds nigh him; but the boar was so big that there might no hounds
tear him, and the hunters came after blowing their horns both on horseback and on foot; and at
the last Sir Launcelot was ware where one of them alighted and tied his horse to a tree, and
leaned his spear against the tree.
So came Sir Launcelot and found the horse bound to a tree, and a spear leaning against a tree,
and a sword tied unto the saddle bow. And then Sir Launcelot leaped into the saddle, and gat
that spear in his hand, and then he rode after the boar; and then Sir Launcelot was ware where
the boar set his back to a tree, fast by an hermitage. Then Sir Launcelot ran at the boar with
his spear. And therewith the boar turned him nimbly, and rove [gashed] out the lungs and the
heart of the horse, so that Sir Launcelot fell to the earth, and or ever Sir Launcelot might get
from the horse, the boar rove him on the brawn of the thigh, up to the hough bone. And then Sir
Launcelot was wroth, and up he gat upon his feet, and drew his sword, and he smote off the
boar's head at one stroke. And therewithal came out the hermit, and saw him have such a wound;
then the hermit came to Sir Launcelot and bemoaned him, and would have had him home unto his
hermitage. But when Sir Launcelot heard him speak, he was so wroth with his wound that he ran
upon the hermit to have slain him, and the hermit ran away, and when Sir Launcelot might not
overget him he threw his sword after him, for Sir Launcelot might go no farther for bleeding.
Then the hermit turned again, and asked Sir Launcelot how he was hurt.
"Fellow," said Sir Launcelot, "this boar hath bitten me sore."
"Then come with me," said the hermit, "and I shall heal you."
"Go thy way," said Sir Launcelot, "and deal not with me."
Then the hermit ran his way, and there he met with a good knight with many men.
"Sir," said the hermit, "here is fast by my place the goodliest man that ever I saw, and he is
sore wounded with a boar, and yet he hath slain the boar. But well I wot and he be not holpen,
that goodly man shall die of that wound, and that were great pity."
Then that knight, at the desire of the hermit, gat a cart, and in that cart that knight put
the boar and Sir Launcelot, for Sir Launcelot was so feeble that they might right easily deal
with him. And so Sir Launcelot was brought unto the hermitage, and there the hermit healed him
of his wound. But the hermit might not find Sir Launcelot's sustenance, and so he impaired and
waxed feeble, both of his body and of his wit, for the default of his sustenance, and waxed more
wood than he was aforehand. And then, upon a day, Sir Launcelot ran his way into the forest;
and by adventure came into the city of Corbin, where dame Elaine was.
And so when he was entered into the town, he ran through the town to the castle; and then all
the young men of the city ran after Sir Launcelot, and there they threw turfs at him, and gave
him many sad strokes; and as Sir Launcelot might reach any of them, he threw them so that they
would never more come in his hands, for of some he brake their legs, and some their arms, and so
fled into the castle. And then came out knights and squires for to rescue Sir Launcelot, and
when they beheld him and looked upon his person, they thought they saw never so goodly a man;
and when they saw so many wounds upon him, they all deemed that he had been a man of worship.
And then they ordained clothes unto his body, and straw underneath him, and a little house, and
then every day they would throw him meat, and set him drink, but there were few or none that
would bring meat to his hands.
So it befell that King Pelles had a nephew whose name was Castor, and he desired of the king
his uncle for to be made knight; and so at the request of this Castor, the king made him knight
at the feast of Candlemas. And when Castor was made knight, that same day he gave many gowns;
and so Sir Castor sent for the fool, that was Sir Launcelot, and when [Sir Launcelot] saw his
time, he went into the garden and there laid him down by a well and slept. And in the afternoon
dame Elaine and her maidens went into the garden for to play them; and as they roamed up and
down, one of dame Elaine's maidens espied where lay a goodly man by the well sleeping, and anon
showed him to dame Elaine.
"Peace," said dame Elaine, "and say no word."
And then she brought dame Elaine where he lay. And when that she beheld him, anon she fell in
remembrance of him, and knew him verily for Sir Launcelot, and therewithal she fell on weeping
so heartily that she sank even to the earth. And when she had thus wept a great while, then she
arose and called her maidens, and said she was sick. And so she went out of the garden, and she
went straight to her father, and there she took him apart by himself, and then she said, "O
father, now have I need of your help, and but if that ye help me, farewell my good days for
"What is that, daughter?" said King Pelles.
"Sir," she said, "thus is it' in your garden I went for to sport, and there by the well I
found Sir Launcelot du Lake sleeping."
"I may not believe that," said King Pelles.
"Sir," she said, "truly he is there, and me seemeth he should be distract out of his wit."
"Then hold you still," said the king, "and let me deal."
Then the king called to him such as he most trusted, four persons, and dame Elaine his
daughter. And when they came to the well and beheld Sir Launcelot, anon dame Brisen knew him.
"Sir," said dame Brisen, "we must be wise how we deal with him, for this knight is out of his
mind, and if we awake him rudely, what he will do we all know not. But ye shall abide, and I
shall throw such an enchantment upon him that he shall not awake within the space of an hour."
And so she did. Then within a little while after King Pelles commanded that all people
should avoid [leave], that none should be in that way there as the king would come. And so when
this was done, these four men and these ladies laid hand on Sir Launcelot. And so they bare him
into a tower, and so into the chamber where as was the [Holy Grail], and by force Sir Launcelot
was laid by that holy vessel; and then there came an holy man and uncovered the vessel, and so
by miracle, and by virtue of that holy vessel, Sir Launcelot was all healed and recovered. And
when he was awaked, he groaned, and sighed sore, and complained greatly that he was passing
And when Sir Launcelot saw King Pelles and dame Elaine, he waxed ashamed, and thus he said,
"O good Lord Jesu, how came I here? for God's sake, my lord, let me wit how I came here."
"Sir," said dame Elaine, "into this country ye came like a mad man all out of your wit, and here
ye have been kept as a fool, and no creature here knew what ye were till that by fortune a maid
of mine brought me unto you where as ye lay sleeping by a well side, and anon as I verily beheld
you I knew you; and then I told my father, and so ye were brought before this holy vessel, 'and
by the virtue of it thus were ye healed."
"O Jesu, mercy!" said Sir Launcelot, "if this be sooth, how many be there that know of my
"So God me help," said dame Elaine, "no moe [more] but my father and I and dame Brisen."
"Now for Christ's love," said Sir Launcelot, "keep it secret, and let no man know it in the
world, for I am sore ashamed that I have been thus miscarried, for I am banished out of the
country of Logris for ever, that is for to say the country of England."
And so Sir Launcelot lay more than a fortnight, or ever that he might stir for soreness.
And then after this King Pelles with ten knights, and dame Elaine and twenty ladies, rode unto
the castle of Bliant, that stood in an island enclosed in iron, with a fair water, deep and
large. And when they were there Sir Launcelot let call it the Joyous Isle, and there was he
called none otherwise but Le Chevalier Mal Fait, the knight that hath trespassed. Then Sir
Launcelot let make him a. shield all of sable, and a queen crowned in the midst all of silver,
and a knight, clean armed, kneeling before her; and every day once, for any mirths that all the
ladies might make him, he would once every day look towards the realm of Logris where King
Arthur and Queen Guenever were, and then would he fall upon weeping as though his heart should
to-brast [burst to pieces]. So it fell that time that Sir Launcelot heard of a jousting fast by
his castle, within three leagues. Then he called unto him a dwarf, and he bade him go Unto that
jousting, "and, or ever the knights depart, look thou make there a cry in the hearing of all the
knights, that there is one knight in the Joyous Isle, that is the castle Bliant, and say that
his name is Le Chevalier Mal Fait, that will joust against knights that will come; and who that
putteth that knight to the worst shall have a fair maid and a gerfalcon."
So when this cry was made, unto Joyous Isle drew knights to the number of five hundred. And
wit ye well there was never seen in Arthur's days one knight that did so much deeds of arms as
Sir Launcelot did three days together. For he had the better of all the five hundred knights,
and there was not one slain of them. And after that Sir Launcelot made them all a great feast.
And in the meanwhile came Sir Percival de Galis and Sir getor de Maris under that castle that
was called the Joyous Isle. And as 'they beheld that gay castle they would have gone to that
castle, but they might not for the broad water, and bridge could they find none. Then they saw
on the other side a lady with a sperhawk in her hand, and Sir Percival called unto her, and
asked that lady who was in that castle.
"Fair knight," she said, "here within this castle is the fairest lady in this land, and her
name is Elaine. Also we have in this castle the fairest knight and the mightiest man that is, I
dare say, living, and he calleth himself Le Chevalier Mal Fait."
"How came he into these marches?" said Sir Percival.
"Truly," said the damsel, "he came into this country like a mad man, with dogs and boys
chasing him through the city of Corbin; and by the Holy Grail he was brought into his wit again,
but he will not do battle with no knight but by underne [nine in the morning] or by noon. And
if ye list to come into the castle, ye must ride unto the farther side of the castle, and there
shall ye find a vessel that will bear you and your horse."
Then they departed and came unto the vessel. And then Sir Percival alighted and said unto
Sir Ector de Maris, "Ye shall abide me here, until I know what manner of knight he is, for it
were a great shame unto us, inasmuch as he is but one knight, and we should both do battle with
"Do as ye list," said Sir Ector de Maris, "here shall I abide you until that I hear of you
Then Sir Percival passed the water; and when he came unto the castle gate, he said to the
porter, "Go thou unto the good knight within the castle, and tell him that here is come an
errant knight to joust with him."
"Sir," said the porter, "ride ye within the castle, and there shall ye find a common place for
jousting, that lords and ladies may behold you."
So anon as Sir Launcelot had warning, he was soon ready. And there Sir Percival and Sir
Launcelot encountered with such a might, and their spears were so rude, that both the horses and
the knights fell to the ground. And then they avoided their horses, and drew out their swords,
and hewed away cantels [pieces] of their shields, and hurled together with their shields like
two wild boars, and either wounded other passing sore. And at the last Sir Percival spake
first, when they had fought more than two hours.
"Fair knight," said Sir Percival, "I require thee tell me thy name, for I met never with such
a knight as ye are."
"Sir," said Sir Launcelot, "my name is Le Chevalier Mal Fait. Now tell me your name," said
Sir Launcelot, "I require you, as ye are a gentle knight."
"Truly," said Sir Percival, "my name is Sir Percival de Galis, which is brother unto the good
knight Sir Lamorack de Galis, and King Pellinore was our father, and Sir Agloval is my brother."
"Alas!" said Sir Launcelot, "what have I done, to fight with you that are a knight of the
Round Table, that some time was your fellow in King Arthur's court ?"
And therewithal Sir Launcelot kneeled down upon his knees, and threw away his shield and his
sword from him. When Sir Percival saw him do so, he marvelled what he meant. And then thus he
said, "Sir knight, whatsoever thou be, I require thee upon the high order of knighthood, tell me
thy true name."
Then he said, "Truly my name is Sir Launcelot du Lake, King Ban's son of Benoy."
"Alas!" said Sir Percival, "what have I done! I was sent by the queen for to seek you, and so I
have sought you nigh this two year; and yonder is Sir Ector de Maris your brother abideth me on
the other side of the yonder water. Now I pray you forgive me mine offence that I have here
"It is soon forgiven," said Sir Launcelot.
Then Sir Percival sent for Sir Ector de Marls. And when Sir Launcelot had a sight of him,
he ran unto him and took him in his arms, and then Sir Ector kneeled down and either wept upon
other, that all had pity to behold them. Then came dame Elaine, and she there made them great
cheer as might lie in her power; and there she told Sir Ector and Sir Percival how and in what
manner Sir Launcelot came into that country, and how he was healed. And there it was known how
long Sir Launcelot was with Sir Bliant and with Sir Seliaunt, and how he first met with them,
and how he departed from them because of a boar; and how the hermit healed Sir Launcelot of his
great wound, and how that he came to Corbin.
"Sir," said Sir Ector, "I am your own brother, and ye are the man in the world that I love
most, and, if I understood that it were your disworship, ye may right well understand that I
would never eounsel you thereto; but King Arthur and all his knights, and in especial Queen
Guenever, made such dole and sorrow that it was marvel to hear and see. And ye must remember
the great worship and renown that ye be of, how that ye have been more spoken of than any other
knight that is now living, for there is none that beareth the name now but ye and Sir Tristram.
Therefore, brother," said Sir Ector, "make you ready to ride unto the court with us, and I dare
well say there was never knight better welcome unto the court than ye. And I wot well and can
make it good," said Sir Ector, "it hath cost my lady the queen twenty thousand pound the seeking
"Well, brother," said Sir Launcelot, "I will do after your counsel and ride with you."
So then they took their horses, and made them ready, and took their leave of King Pelles and
of dame Elaine; and when Sir Launcelot should depart, dame Elaine made great sorrow.
Then they departed, and within five days' journey they came to Camelot, which is called, in
English, Winchester. And when Sir Launcelot was come among them, the king and all the knights
made great joy of him; and there Sir Percival de Galis and Sir Ector de Maris began to tell of
all the adventures, how Sir Launcelot had been out of his mind all the time of his absence, how
he called himself Le Chevalier Mal Fait, as much as to say the knight that had trespassed, and
in three days Sir Launcelot smote down five hundred knights. And ever as Sir Ector and Sir
Percival told these tales of Sir Launcelot, Queen Guenever wept as she would have died; then
afterward the queen made great joy.
"O Jesu!" said King Arthur, "I marvel for what cause ye, Sir Launcelot, went out of your mind."
"My lord," said Sir Launcelot, "if I did any folly, I have found that I sought."
And so the king held him still, and spake no more; but all Sir Launcelot's kin knew for whom he
went out of his mind. And then there were great feasts made and great joy, and many great lords
and ladies, when they heard that Sir Launcelot was come to the court again, made great joy.
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The illustrations are by N.C. Wyeth (1882 - 1945) first published Scribner's 1924)